Posted in Gaming

Would You Rent PC Games Via a Monthly Subscription Model?

steam_originYesterday, EA announced the new Origin Access service which is a $4.99 monthly subscription to a library of EA games through the Origin client. Currently, the Origin Vault contains 15 games including games like the Dragon Age series, This War of Mine, Sims 3, Sims City, and games from the Battlefield series. Other perks listed in the service is a 10% discount on Origin game and DLC purchases and “Play First,” the ability to try out new games before their released so you can get a taste of whether you enjoy it or not before purchasing. The site notes that more games will be coming to the Vault in time.

That Origin Client

Now, like many people, I’m not a fan of the Origin client. I deal with it because it launches my Sims 4 games, and it’s a forced integration. This makes me antsy in a similar way Steam used to, because I ask the same question I did when I first heard about Steam – What happens to my games when Origin is no more or the company decides to stop supporting it?

Now, doubts and dislike aside, I wanted to write this article because I find the overall concept of the Origin Access subscription service an interesting one. I’m not fully up on all the info, but I doubt they’re the first to try such a thing. Still, it’s the first large gaming client that I know of and use that has chosen to offer a subscription to a library of games.

I don’t think $4.99 is a bad price for a month’s worth of game access. Heck, to put it in perspective, we used to pay something similar for a few days of console game rentals at Blockbusters of old. But something about it still bugs me a little, even if the concept is interesting.

Maybe it’s just their Vault isn’t that appealing to me. I already own Sim City, Sims 3, and This War of Mine. I also own Dragon Age Origins, and have yet to get very far into it, so I’ve got little interest in the rest of the series until I find time for the first game I already own. The rest of the games, such as Battlefield, Fifa and Plants vs. Zombies, don’t really interest me. So there’s very little I’d want to play in their Vault at this point. Especially not when I can plunk down $5 for good indie games at Steam, and already have a huge backlog I haven’t tackled there.

But What If…

However, speaking of Steam… If it was Steam that was releasing a $4.99 subscription for access to even a fraction of the Steam library (maybe a rotation of games every month?), I might actually be pretty excited. Think about sampling Steam games, and just the wide variety of games you could try out.

I know that many of the games in my backlog rarely see above 4-5 hours of play. Either I’ve completed them in that time, or I’ve had my fill of them, and have put them down to play something else. So a monthly sub to a wide Steam library would not only eliminate the backlog problem, but would still give me access to games for just as long as I’d usually play them. Then, if I found a real gem, that would go on my wishlist to buy and keep forever.

What Do You Think?

I dunno. There’s still something about renting single player games and never owning anything that bothers me slightly, despite the fact I pay a sub to MMO games without blinking an eye. But the further we get into the realm of digital game distribution, the more we’ll start to see things evolving in these ways. Origin may not have an appealing Vault of games (to me) for their sub model, but they’re taking an interesting step in a different direction.

How do you feel about the idea of renting your PC games in a sub model like this?


I'm a technical writer by day, gaming gal by night. I have a wide array of gaming interests, though I most often blog about MMOs, RPGs, and Nintendo fanstuffs. Like what you just read? Check out my Webcomic and Fantasy Fiction projects!

12 thoughts on “Would You Rent PC Games Via a Monthly Subscription Model?

  1. I must admit, the deal looks interesting. Not interesting enough that I would install Origin on my PC, but interesting enough to ponder.

    I would consider it from another company… maybe… if the game selection was good. But not only is EA (and UbiSoft, if we want to knock out another potential vendor) on my No Fly list but, as with you, I am not sure there is much on that list I would spend time playing.


  2. EA’s system has been working on the Xbox One for quite some time, and I know someone who’s used it and enjoyed it. For one, he said that the 10 day trial on new games allowed him to “saturate” himself with the gameplay of one new game so he felt like he DID NOT need to spend money on it (he got it out of his system, in other words). Money saved, and he got a first-hand account rather than a word-of-mouth or review on it.

    For me, EA’s current Vault catalog is uninspiring, but I think EA’s bench is fairly uninspiring anyway. I also own the games that I’d be interested in, so the RENTAL portion has little appeal. The 10% discount, however, might be of interest since it covers games and DLC.

    I don’t think having a Steam face on a similar system would make me enjoy it more; personally, I don’t think it’s a case of “two content delivery systems, one people accept and one people hate” is makes that much of a difference. In a way, Steam DOES have a pseudo-rental system with their return policy, although using it as a “rental” system is kind of a shady use for it.


    1. I also think that trying out a game for a 10 days is a good money saver. I’d probably do what your friend is and play something until I felt done, or just knew this was something I had to have as a keeper.

      Just, there’s not much on Origin for me to be excited about.


  3. I subscribe to Xbox Live. For $60 a year I get 4-5 new games a month and can play them so long as I am still a subscriber. In essence its the same price, but if I don’t claim a game then I lose it.

    It works for me as I am building my library of Xbone games. I am hoping that since Microsoft is trying to get some parity between PC and Xbox, they will let me play them on my PC as well. Though I can stream them to a windows 10 machine.

    I agree that the Vault is just not appealing. Even on the Xbox they have last years NHL game, for $17 I picked it up used and its the only thing that interested me.

    But if Steam did this with Indie titles. I would subscribe immediately. Especially if they use the Xbox Live model and let me play them so long as I subscribe.


    1. I don’t have an Xbox, but I had a feeling Xbox Live was something similar. Thanks for detailing it. That does seem like a pretty good deal at $60 a year.

      Does it allow you to choose any game on Xbox, or is it from a select library – just curious!

      Considering the influx of so many Steam indie games who want your attention, a sub for indie games might actually be a benefit for both Steam and the devs. The more crowded the platform, the harder it is for Steam indies to get noticed.


    1. That’s a good point! In that case, it would be money saved.

      I rarely buy games that expensive (aside from Wii U games, but that’s another story) for the PC… I usually wait for a good sale now days. Every now and then, I pick up a new release, but it’s not super often.


  4. I would guess this is where Content Producers of all types of entertainment would like, hope and maybe expect to see their income stream move over the next decade or so. Ownership of either a physical or even a digital product will be phased out in favor of subscriptions to services.

    I suspect, however, that the extremely long tail of customers who are already habituated to “owning” or, worse, collecting, books, movies, albums, games and all the rest will make it a very slow process. And then you have the inevitable hipster factor, whereby even young people who are growing up with a different concept of ownership will see added mystique in doing things the old way (viz the vinyl revival).

    Personally, I don’t play enough non-MMOs for it to be relevant and MMOs are already something over which ownership is notional, so I don’t have a dog in the race.


    1. I think you’re right on this. It really depends on how you view gaming.

      Is it something you own, like the physical boxes we use to have with the shiny manuals and all?

      Or is gaming an experience to consume, somewhat like going to the movies, where what you take away from the game isn’t an object you can touch?

      I’d wager with apps and such, gaming is going to become more of an experience with the younger crowd. If there’s something physical to purchase, it’ll be alongside the game – such as the Nintendo Amiibos. Those fill that need to collect something game-related, even if the game you purchased was a digital download.


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